Fort Collins, Colorado to go 100% renewable by 2030

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The list of American cities transitioning to 100% renewable energy in the electricity sector keeps on growing, as last week the Fort Collins City Council approved a plan to go 100% renewable by 2030 in a 6-1 vote.

The decision comes in conjunction with the city’s recently-updated Climate Action Plan, which looks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% of their 2005 levels by 2030. Furthermore, the city plans on achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The passing of the mandate now makes Fort Collins the 9th city in Colorado to make the pledge to go 100% renewable, as well as the 86th city to do so nationally.

“Clean energy will ensure a sustainable future for Fort Collins. Climate change, air and water pollution, and exploding growth in our area call for bold action that will safeguard our environment and strengthen our local economy. Moving to 100 percent clean electricity will create new business opportunities, lower energy bills, and build a resilient future for Fort Collins,” said Nick Francis of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group in a release touting the mandate. “The goal in this resolution supports the emissions reduction goals in the city’s Climate Action Plan and will bring down energy costs for residents. It’s a win for everyone.”

The city’s resolution outlining how the goal will be achieved references procuring energy from Platte River Power Authority’s upcoming 150 MW wind generation facility as well as a 20 MW solar energy facility, which the company claims will fulfill 50% of the mandate by 2020. The impact of these upcoming developments are twofold, as the projects will greatly decrease the city’s community-wide electricity emissions, which currently represent 51% of greenhouse gas emissions. These and future developments are further necessitated by the finding that solar and wind are the cheapest forms of new energy development in Colorado.

This expected progress is becoming typical for Colorado, which is seeing more and more solar and wind development by the day. In August, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission voted to approve a plan which would add over 1 GW of wind, 700 MW of solar and 275 MW of energy storage, while retiring 660 MW of coal. Xcel energy alone proposed the construction of over 1 GW of wind and 707 MW of solar in the state to go on-line in 2023.

SEIA currently has colorado projected to be the 12th fastest growing solar state in the country over the next five years, with that number only expected to climb. The state currently has the 12th most installed capacity at 1,055 MW, up from 20th in 2017.

And, while not directly outlining the steps taken to do so, the resolution also stresses the necessity of the city to participate in a regional electricity market, something likely to be shared by future Colorado communities as more and more cities in the state look to make the switch to renewables.